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Contaminated fuel can damage your engine. Today’s diesel engine manufacturers call for fuel to meet or exceed ISO cleanliness levels of 18/16/13 with a water content of less than 0.05%. Not long ago diesel engines were quite simple, not too efficient, smoked, and burned high sulfur fuel, in fact as much as 5,000 parts per million. The older diesel injection systems only use about 1⁄2 the fuel pressure modern engines do, and older injectors send the fuel through much larger passages. If there was a little moisture in the storage tank, the high sulfur content killed most of the filter clogging bacteria and fungi.

Today’s diesel fuel is ultra-low sulfur, markedly 15 parts per million, which allows filter clogging bacteria and fungi to grow rapidly if any moisture is in the fuel storage tank. Modern diesel engines use high pressure, 27,000 to 35,000 psi fuel injectors with tiny fuel passages which are easily clogged with dirty fuel and damaged by water.

The days of using grandpa’s old style boat or tractor filters on your diesel fuel tank are over. The old-style fuel filters and gravity water separators that remove 75% to 99% of the contamination are not good enough for today’s diesel engines. Magnets and filterless devices won’t clean fuel to ISO 18/16/13 or remove water to less than 100 PPM.

  • Water… being heavier than fuel is found under the fuel at the tank bottom.
  • Condensation… will be pulled by gravity to the tank bottom.
  • Bacteria & Fungi… are heavier than fuel but lighter than water and will be found at the fuel/water interface as shown in the photo.
  • Rust… is heavier than water and fuel and will be found at the tank bottom.
  • As much as 90% of the upper fuel in a storage tank may not be contaminated if left undisturbed.


Phase Separation happens to ethanol blended gasoline when water is present. When gasoline containing Ethanol comes in contact with water—either liquid or in the form of humidity—the Ethanol will absorb some or all of that water. When it reaches a saturation point, the Ethanol and water will Phase Separate, actually coming out of solution and forming distinct layers on the fuel tank bottom. The result could lower the octane to a point where the engine will not run; or if the alcohol/water mixture is ingested into the engine, sever damage can occur.

Bulk fuel storage tanks should be regularly checked for water and maintained to prevent phase separation. Laboratory tests have proven that well designed fuel polishing system will remove the separated phase from the fuel tank in one pass through the system without effecting the clean fuel.


Bottom sample your fuel often with a 4oz. or 8oz. Sampler (bacon bomb) from Fueltec.

Simply lower the sampler to the storage tank bottom, retrive it and place in a clear container. A valve will open upon contact with the container; now you can see any contamination that may be on your tank bottom, including water.

Get a Lab Report for Your Fuel Sample

Once you have a fuel sample, you may want analysis from a certified laboratory. If this is the case, we recommend Predictive Maintenance Services, Inc. for certified lab reports.


Our fuel polishing and tank cleaning systems are the clean fuel solution to remove water, sludge and sediment down to one micron from gasoline, diesel and ethanol blend storage tanks. 


BIO-VAC 270 Mobile Fuel Polishing System

Fueltec’s mobile fuel tank cleaning systems remove free and emulsified water as well as tank sediment and sludge down to one micron.

  • The clean fuel solution for contaminated fuel storage tanks, Fueltec offers mobile systems with flow rates from 8 gallons/minute to 75 gallons/minute.
  • Choose between Pneumatic Mobile Fuel Tank Cleaning Systems and Electric Mobile Fuel Tank Cleaning Systems.
  • Micro-glass water separators remove even tiny droplets of water to less than 50 PPM.
  • Variable speed fuel pumps remove contamination without causing emulsification or phase separation.
  • A clear sight tube allows you to see the water as it is being separated.
  • Contaminates can be discharged into a waste container under pressure without stopping the fuel polishing operation.



Automated fuel tank cleaning systems work 24-7 to keep your fuel clean and dry.

  • Once a year fuel tank cleaning may not be the clean fuel solution for your critical power system.
  • Critical power sites cannot have an engine shut down because of bad fuel.
  • Fueltec’s automatic systems filter fuel and remove water from your fuel tank 24-7.
  • Fuel is cleaned to engine manufacturer’s cleanliness level for todays high pressure fuel injection systems.
  • Polishing system alarms will warn you to change filter, drain separated water, check system flow, or leak.
  • System can notify you by LED lights, Alarms, optional Modbus or SMS Text Message.
  • Lifetime stainless steel filter housings assure you of years of trouble free service.